In 2020, cycling experienced its biggest boom in America since the ’70s, with sales up by 253% in April. That drastic increase in sales was largely due to people seeking entertainment, exercise, and alternate methods of travel during the pandemic.
Suddenly, cities across the country were following in the footsteps of Chicago, which was voted the best biking city in the U.S., and embracing the cycling lifestyle. As shutdowns continued to sweep the nation, more and more bikes flew off the shelves.
If one of those bikes found its way into your garage, you might be interested to know that cycling comes with some excellent benefits for you and others. Along with those benefits, however, comes danger you may not be expecting.
Let’s take a ride into the world of bicycles and explore the benefits and dangers that come with this way of keeping fit.
Biking Benefits: Why It’s Good For You And Others
Biking can be an easy and surprisingly efficient way of incorporating exercise into your everyday life. Cycling regularly can lead to increased cardiovascular fitness, strength, joint mobility, and flexibility. It can also decrease stress, body fat levels, and help prevent disease.
Those are all excellent examples of how riding a bike can benefit you, but did you know the planet benefits too? Riding a bike cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, which is the second-largest source of air pollution in the U.S. Cycling also reduces noise pollution, congestion, and the need for new parking lots and roadways.
When you add all these benefits together, it’s easy to see that biking is a responsible choice for your health and the environment. The cycling boom may easily be the best thing to come out of the 2020 lockdowns.
Shocking Statistics: The Dangers Of Biking
We all know that there are some dangers associated with riding a bike. After all, cyclists often ride right alongside traffic in congested cities. That creates a recipe for some accidents, but what’s shocking is just how common they are.
In 2018, there were 1,095 cyclist injuries in the city of Chicago alone. The following year, a total of 868 people died in the U.S. due to injuries sustained while biking. That’s a 36% increase in deaths in less than a decade, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Those numbers are particularly frightening when you consider that they come from before the bike boom of the last year. As the number of bike riders goes up, so does the potential for accidents.
Avoiding Accidents: How You Can Keep Yourself Safe
While you can’t eliminate all the dangers of riding a bike in crowded areas, you can make the experience safer by taking a few simple precautions.
- Always wear a helmet, even in states that don’t legally require it. The most common type of injury cyclists receive is a head injury, and 95% of cyclists who die from them weren’t wearing helmets.
- Wear reflective materials to make yourself more visible to cars.
- Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Learn hand signals, and use them to communicate with drivers so they know what you’re planning to do.
- Behave as though you’re driving a car. Drivers are used to the movement patterns of other vehicles, so don’t weave in and out of traffic or slip into tight spaces that a normal vehicle couldn’t fit in.
Taking these simple steps every time you ride can dramatically reduce your chance of injury or death.
Unfortunately, all of the risks can’t be eliminated, no matter how cautious you are. There will always be careless drivers who don’t obey the rules of the road. If you’ve recently been the victim of one of these drivers, you may have legal options.
An attorney who knows the ins and outs of the laws regarding bicycle accidents can help you get compensation for your injuries. Common injuries that come up in bicycle accident cases include broken bones, damaged joints, neck problems, and traumatic brain injuries.
Though those are some of the most common injuries, they’re not the only ones that could entitle you to a financial settlement. Your lawyer will be able to better advise you based on the laws in your state.
The effects of bicycling can be beneficial to you and the planet, but you must pedal with caution to protect yourself from the dangerous surprises associated with it.